The Virtual Rainforest
A Neotropical Rainforest
Rainforest Research


Tree Seedlings

Forest Flowers



Army Ants

Bullet Ants
Leafcutter Ants

Rhinoceros Beetle

Swallowtail Butterfly



Keel-billed Toucan

Howler Monkeys

White-faced Monkeys

Three-toed Sloth
Baird's Tapir
White-lipped Peccary
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frog
Helmeted Iguana
Eyelash Viper
Terciopelo Viper
Spectacled Caiman
American Crocodile
Human Systems:
Rainforest Boy
Rainforest Girl
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Rainforest Research

About the Authors







Beetles are the most diverse group of living organisms in a tropical rainforest. Scientists think there are several MILLION different species of beetles living in the tropical rainforests. However, scientists have only been able to identify about a million and worry that many will be extinct before they can be discovered.

Diversity of Beetles
Golden Beetle Image from DK Images Beetles fill every imaginable role in the rainforest. Some are predators (like Ladybug Beetles), many are herbivores, and some are decomposers. They come in every color, including red, green and even GOLD. Even though you might not notice them when you walk around in a rainforest, beetles are one of the most important parts of the tropical rainforest.

Rhinoceros BeetleRhinoceros Beetle

Native to Central and South America, this beetle is one of the largest in the world. Its body and horn can be as long as 6.75 inches, and they can weigh up to four ounces. They feed on dead plant matter and fruit found in the rainforest. The male has 2 black horns that are as large as its body while the female does not. These beetles are also very strong; they are able to carry as much as 100 times their own weight! They are nocturnal beetles but very much attracted to light. Mating takes place during the rainy season. If a male feels threatened by another male when he is trying to find a mate he will pick him up with his horns and throw him to the ground, usually defeating his competition. The larva grows for about 9 months in decaying wood before pupating in a case made of wood fiber. Black and gold adults will roam around looking for rotting fruit to eat.










The Virtual Rainforest

Back to the Rainforest

Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University

Students and teachers have permission to quote text and use images from this website in class assignments. Images may be used in classroom and academic presentations with notification of author. All other use should request permission.


Virtual Rainforest development supported by grant #0815966 from the
National Science Foundation

Center for Global Change and Earth Observation

Michigan State University